Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Nathan Lingle's Pear Tart

It must officially be fall if chefs are now making desserts with pears!

And, in fact, the morning I hung out in the kitchen with Kitchen 1540's executive chef Nathan Lingle the weather was cool and overcast. Perfect for making a pear tart.

We started the morning with David Johnson and his Specialty Produce colleagues tasting vegetables and fruits on their farmers market truck. I walked away with a small bag of smoked sun-dried tomatoes from Windrose Farm, but not before we tasted a variety of pears and melons. Lingle made his selections from both conventional Bartletts and Asian pears, then we walked through the L'Auberge grounds to the kitchen to make the tarts.

Lingle came up with a duck fat tart dough using L.A.'s Grist & Toll Urban Flour Mill's flour that he paired with almond frangipane, diced sweet Asian pears, grilled Bartlett pears (to bring out the sweetness in a bland piece of fruit) and pear balls poached in a dry Riesling syrup (the fragrant syrup alone is worth having the entire recipe; pour it over ice cream or poached fruit or custards). There were also pear slices tossed in fresh thyme and cinnamon, and a swoop of almond butter. Together the various taste notes created a lovely symphony of flavor. He made individual tarts using--get this--mason jar lids as tart "pans" but you could easily make a single tart to serve.

Lingle, who's originally from Camden Rockport, Maine, has been with Kitchen 1540 for two years. Previously, he had been in Woodstock, Vermont as a restaurant consultant, and before that with the Ritz Carlton--spending five years in Philadelphia and 10 in Naples, Florida.

"I grew up in a household where Mom always cooked dinner," he said. "We had a garden and bought eggs from neighbors down the road. The best pasta was made with those eggs. I was eating and cooking duck and goose eggs before they became trendy."

With an uncle who ran two restaurants in New Haven, cooking was central to the family. When he'd return to Maine, the family would gather for a stretch of cooking and feasting.

"As I started to get into cooking, that's what resonated with me--finding good ingredients and helping people to connect with that to have an experience of fresh ingredients and a meal that brought them together."

Nathan Lingle's Pear Tart with Duck Fat Tart Dough
(printable recipe)

There are several components to this tart. Each one is listed below, with instructions for how to put it all together at the end.

Duck Fat Tart Dough 
1 tsp thyme leaf
1 tsp salt
1 tsp water
3 T sugar
1 whole egg
2 T cultured butter
2 T duck fat
1 ¼ cup flour, sifted
½ tsp baking soda

In a bowl, combine thyme, salt, water and sugar. Add the egg, butter and duck fat. Sift together the flour and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture in small increments. Knead until pastry comes together, and then work dough for 2 minutes. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for one hour.

Roll out the dough between sheets of parchment paper. Place in a single tart pan or use mason jar lids to create individual tarts.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Blind bake the tart shells for five minutes. Let cool and reserve.

Almond Frangipane 
2 eggs
1 ¼ cup powdered sugar
1 cup almond flour
10 T whole butter

Combine all ingredients in food processor. Reserve.

Dry Riesling Syrup Poached Pears
1 bottle dry Riesling wine
1/4 cup sugar
1 ripe Bartlett pear

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and reduce until syrupy over low heat. Using a fruit baller, scoop out balls from the pear. Add them to the syrup and continue cooking over low heat until pears are cooked through. Let cool and reserve.

Create Tart

Duck Fat Tart Dough
Almond Frangiane
Ripe Asian pears, diced
Fresh pear slices
Thyme leaves
Ground cinnamon
Almond butter
Dry Riesling Syrup Poached Pears

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Smooth a layer of frangipane over the bottom of the duck fat tart crust.
3. Add Asian pear pieces.
4. Bake for 10 minutes.

5. To plate, spread a swish of almond butter on the plate. Place the baked tart on the plate. Toss the pear slices with thyme leaves and cinnamon, then strategically place the slices on the plate around the tart. Then finish with the poached pear balls. Serve.

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